Friday, May 18, 2012

What's a vampire, anyway?

OK, I'm doing a major overhaul. Note that this post will describe vampires in the universe that I, personally, RP in. I'm not trying to say they're "proper" vampires, or any such bullshit--I will not play that silly game. They're what I like, so they're what I use. This post is for people who want to be well-informed about what I expect from vampires in my universe.

Basically, there are three bloodlines of vampires in this universe; lower, more sadistic ones who have less capacity for humanity, "normal" ones who are pretty standard vampires, and, "greater" ones, who can use blood magic (from the blood they consume, not by spilling blood). I also use True Blood as a kind of blueprint, with other sources (mostly a mix between years of all-purpose RP experience, Vampire: The Masquerade, Let the Right One In and Supernatural) changing most of the details. No form of vampire in this document will be "faithful" to any one universe, mythology, etc., though, and they're not meant to be. 

To be clear, I say that True Blood is the blueprint because it's what inspired me to make a vampire character. I use its social situation (the fact that vampires 'came out of the coffin', the political and social climate around that, etc.), and alter other things about it as I see fit. As of my writing/editing this, my story hovers around the end of season three, so there haven't been any of those major changes in the Authority yet, werewolves and shifters haven't come out, etc.. I'll edit accordingly if/when this changes. 

Now, to the meat!

Things That Apply To All Bloodlines of Vampires

They crumble to ash when they're killed.

They must feed on the blood of humans, or 'higher' creatures (eg, not animals) to thrive. Animal blood would sustain them in a pinch, but provides poor nutrition, all around.

The blood of other vampires will cause them to feel closer to that vampire, to bond with them in a more intense way than they would with humans.

They cannot procreate as they could when they were mortal.

They will live forever, barring murder or suicide.

Their body consistently tries to return itself to the state in which they were turned; they do not age, and all healing will reflect their condition just prior to being made vampire. This also means that a hair cut grows back in over the course of a day's rest.

They burn to ash in the sunlight, and are incredibly, incredibly difficult to rouse during the day, whether they're out of the sun or not.

They have superhuman physical attributes (some bloodlines are stronger than others).

They grow stronger with age.

Cutting off their heads will always kill them, regardless of bloodline.

While they can consume small amounts of fluid or near-fluid materials that aren't blood without having to vomit them out, anything more substantial is likely to make them violently ill. Even vampires who have conditioned themselves to be able to swallow food and drink will need to regurgitate it eventually, as they have no functional digestive system; blood is just sort of absorbed through the stomach and incorporated into their bloodstream from there.

Their palette has changed to find blood more palatable than a human would. They can taste things in it that humans wouldn't. Their sense of taste for other things has made them less appetizing. These are a mixture of biological and psychological cues, though, so it's possible for vampires to condition themselves to recognize what smells, etc., would appeal to humans. Possible, but definitely a learning process.

Silver burns their skin, weakens them significantly, and can poison them, if it is healed inside them or otherwise incorporated into their bloodstream. Silver poisoning is characterized by weakness, particularly gnawing hunger, and slowly starting to resemble a chemo patient, basically. The more blood a vampire drinks, the faster it's purified from their system. The blood of 'higher creatures' will hasten this process (and the blood of a fairy will purify it away instantly).

They're capable of having sex (but not of procreating sexually, remember). As that's concerned, they can't pass on diseases.

Religious things (holy water, crosses, hallowed ground, etc.) don't affect them at all.

Their tears are made of blood, rather than, you know, tears. 

They're effectively dead, so their blood is cold, their heart doesn't beat, they don't need to breathe, they don't sweat, they don't blush, they don't urinate or defecate, etc.. It's probably worth a reminder that breathing is necessary for speech, just like with anything else, but they don't need to do it to survive. 

Things that normally require bloodflow (eg,, erections) are accomplished by an unconscious magical force instead, making these things slightly firmer than they would be in a human.

They do have small amounts of relatively normal, mortal fluids that are required for them to function without appearing thoroughly fucked up. These include oils in the skin and hair, enough normal tears to keep the eyes lubricated, enough mucus to keep the nose from bleeding and sexual fluid.

Sexuality is a natural part of their hunting technique--that is, it's acknowledged as a necessary function by their bodies, so they're capable of it. They can't sexually reproduce, though. For female vampires, this means that all of their eggs were lost upon being turned. For male ones, they have seminal fluid without sperm.

Lower Vampires

This bloodline has been hunted down extensively, both by vampire hunters and by pro-mainstreaming vampires of other bloodlines. This means that they're the rarest sort.

They have many shark-like teeth that extend over their human ones when they're about to feed. These will grow back, if lost, regenerated like any other injury.

There's no special pleasure associated with being bitten by one of these vampires. It hurts just as it would being bitten by an animal. 

It is especially easy for them to create new vampires; they only need to feed them their blood, and it's done in a matter of minutes. This means that, while these vampires are relatively rare, there will often be episodes of them creating many other vampires at once, resulting in quick, scattered population explosions. This can also be accomplished by touching the blood to an open wound, which would require less blood than having them drink it would, but there's little to no danger of it simply for being on unbroken skin.

While their physical attributes are superior to those of a human of comparable size and strength, they are weaker than other vampires who share their age and build.

They have more of a pack mentality than other vampires, and tend to live in nests with their many progeny/siblings.

They can only be killed by beheading, or by especially enchanted means; stakes/wood do nothing but piss them off, really. 

Neither their blood nor their saliva has any healing properties whatsoever. 

Their monstrous qualities are especially strong; they're more distanced from their humanity than other races of vampire, more easily given over to sadism toward humans. Whether this is due to an increased appetite or some kind of natural meanness is unclear. 

Standard Vampires

These are the only vampires who have 'come out of the coffin', officially; these are the ones humans will see on TV, the ones who invented synthetic blood, etc. etc.. 

These are the most common type of vampire, and are generally the ones most dedicated to the mainstreaming effort; it was their idea.

They have two fangs that extend from their top row of teeth when they're about to feed. These are different between all vampires, just as human teeth are not identical among humans.

Attempts to enter a mortal dwelling uninvited will result in their bleeding as though having a brain hemorrhage, becoming incredibly weak and suffering agonizing pain, until they either secure an invitation or manage to crawl out of the door.

They can work a kind of subconscious magic that makes the bite pleasant. The bite itself will hurt, but sucking on it, afterward, is generally a very erotic sensation. . .unless they don't want it to be. Then it hurts about as much as you'd expect.

Being pierced by anything wooden will kill them instantly. Wooden things also cut/pierce through a vampire's skin very, very easily.

They have significantly greater physical attributes than humans of comparable build, even directly after being made.

To make a new vampire, they must drink from them until they're on the brink of death, then feed them a significant amount of their blood. Afterward, they shut them away from the sun for a varying amount of time (anywhere from one night to two weeks, depending on a number of different variables, such as the age of the siring vampire and the health of the prospective vampire), after which they rise as a vampire. It's traditional to bury them, but not necessary.

Their skin is slightly thicker and firmer than human skin, making it more difficult to cut, bruise or pierce with weapons not made of wood or silver. Still doable, of course.

They're capable of 'glamouring' humans--meaning, they look them straight in the eyes, and they'll obey whatever they say, so long as they maintain eye contact. This can be as simple as "go over there and don't move" or as complex as "you never saw us here tonight, you came to get donuts and you left". 

Their saliva has healing properties, when it can be concentrated on a particular spot. It's normally used to heal arteries after feeding so their prey doesn't bleed out; it's not especially useful for wounds larger than that.

Their blood has stronger healing properties than their saliva, and this is accomplished either by feeding it to a human, or putting it on a wound.

A mortal who's had a vampire's blood fresh from the source--that is, when they're in a position to form a clear mental picture of the vampire--will find themselves thinking favorably of them, fantasizing about them, missing them, etc., for a period of time, depending on how much blood they've had. 

If a vampire and a human swap blood in remarkable amounts, they will become blood bound to one another--basically the same thing as above, but mutual.

If this goes on for long periods of time, the bond begins to favor the vampire; that is, the human's feelings of loyalty to, and desire for, the vampire (and their blood) will be more intense than the vampire's feelings of the same.

This bond can be turned into a 'ghouling' situation, but it is not necessary to drink a mortal's blood to accomplish this (though they usually will). Ghouled humans will begin to assume a vampire's attributes, most notably their longevity, as long as they're fed that vampire's blood regularly. Heightened physical attributes apply. They're capable of being in the sun, but are likely to be made uncomfortable by it, thanks to their strong empathy with the vampire. Doing this is generally regarded as making a slave of the mortal party, because their free will is largely overwhelmed by their esteem for the vampire (and their blood). 

This process can be done to animals as well, to make them stronger, more loyal, and effectively immortal (though they're still capable of dying from, say, blood loss. . .same with humans, but I forget shit, OK? It's a lot of details!)

Drinking the blood of an unknown vampire has all kinds of positive effects; heightened physical attributes, heightened libido, etc., without any particular feelings for the vampire it came from (though, I guess if they happened to meet them while dosed up on their blood, maybe they'd feel it??). Different people react differently to these changes--sometimes the sudden heightened senses can trigger hallucinations, for example, but that's not to do with the blood itself, just the personality, body chemistry, etc., of the user. It also makes the user more easily given over to violence, and is highly addictive. It's a pretty big problem in certain parts of the world, with humans known as drainers subduing vampires and draining them dry, and other vampires willingly selling their blood for the money. It's referred to as 'V', and considered an illegal drug all around.

Greater Vampires

Most/all of the things about Standard vampires apply to the Greater as well. In addition. . .

They can use blood-fueled magic. It's suggested that this energy is supplied not by the blood, in and of itself, but by the sacrifice represented in taking it from another. Therefore, synthetic blood cannot replenish this energy in them.

This magical energy in them actually makes it much harder for them to feel satisfied by synthetic blood. Even if they're not using magic all over the place, the magical attribute represents a second kind of hunger. They naturally hunger for the power that blood gives them, even if their personality type isn't really given over to using it.

Of course, this hunger will often warp said personality type into being more superior and power-hungry. While Greater vampires are capable of mainstreaming (in the sense of letting humans know what they are, in the most basic sense, and trying to make a place for themselves in human society), the number of them who do is far lesser than Standard vampires. Many of them will, in fact, participate in human society, but they'll be pretending to be human, using magic to make themselves convincing.

To the public, any Greater mainstreaming vampire is required, by the Authority and by the urging of the supernatural community at large, to present themselves as a Standard vampire.

While they can use magic to accelerate their own healing, it's a very rare vampire that can use anything resembling healing magic on other people. If they manage to do so, it's incredibly taxing.

More drastic forms of magic are also very taxing. By 'taxing', I mean that they use enormous amounts of that blood energy. If they exhaust very much of that, they enter starvation mode and ravenously feed on the nearest available mortal source.

They can learn how to more effectively execute magic they use often to require less blood.

As insinuated above, they can do a lot with it, and can make themselves convincingly human by it (eg, making their heart beat, giving themselves body heat, sweat, etc.). However, these are conscious decisions they have to make. . .so, someone might find that a vampire is cooler or warmer than normal, that they sweat too much or too little, that the rhythm of their heartbeat is off, etc..Basically, it's hard to make it identical to what it was when they were human, so how convincing they are is up to how well they can pull that sort of thing off.

While they can use magic to create life, they need the raw materials for it, and they can't use magic to create mortal life from their own body. So, basically, they can make a homunculus or a golem, they can cause existing lifeforms to mutate in all sorts of ways, but they still can't make babies. It's the nature of the curse.

Their 'magical' nature is very palpable to magic-sensitive people or creatures. So, those who are drawn to, or strengthened by, magic, will feel drawn to these vampires. Some may think that it's a twisted and disgusting energy, while others might not make that distinction, and find the presence of magic at all to be pure and comforting. 

The blood of magical creatures replenishes their energy at a far greater rate than that of more mundane creatures (humans, basically, though some humans have magical attributes in this universe, too. . .not the subject of this post, though!).

Blood taken from a corpse renders their magical powers inert.

There's a symbol that can be drawn, in a manner similar to a devil's trap for demons, that will exploit the magic in this breed's blood. They'll be unable to leave the symbol and unable to use magic while inside it.

Their magical acuity makes it easy for them to detect many things about supernatural creatures and forces. Too many to list, really; I'll probably tell you about it if/when it's relevant.

The blood of a Greater vampire is more potent than the other bloodlines'. A human drinking it may even sometimes manifest magical abilities (though they'd have to somehow figure out they were there, of course).

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